Delicious Sticks

It’s no secret that I really like Pinterest. Anyone that follows me knows that there are only a few things I’m ever really interested in: food, clothes, and workouts. I suppose you could say my boards are a pretty good reflection of my personal interests. Hmm, I see some type of interesting psychological study here… But I’ll leave that to the professionals.

There are always recipes for ‘healthified’ versions of things that most of us love, but refuse to indulge in. I kept seeing recipes for baked avocado fries, baked eggplant fries, and baked zucchini fries, and eventually decided to try some myself. Last Friday’s fresh box came with two very large zucchinis, so I decided to try them first in my quest for baked-not-fried-sticks-of-deliciousness.

Plain and simple, I don’t know why I waited so long to try this. It wasn’t because there is required effort (because there really isn’t), or because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it (I knew I would), I really have no explanation as to why I neglected said sticks of deliciousness for so long. But, now that I’ve gotten my feet wet with the zucchini, you better believe I’m making the eggplant and avocado versions in the very near future.

So don’t wait as long as I did, and go make these – I promise you won’t regret it.

Spicy Baked Zucchini Sticks
– serves 2 for an appetizer –

1 large zucchini
1 egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes (these are SPICY, so adjust accordingly!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the zucchini in half, and then slice it into about 1-2 inch thick strips. Be sure to leave the skin on for a little crunch.
3. In a shallow bowl whisk the egg, set aside.
4. In a second shallow bowl combine the panko and spices.
5. Dip the zucchini first in the egg, followed by the panko mixture, and lay it on a greased baking sheet. Repeat for all of the zucchini sticks.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Serve with marinara or your favorite dipping sauce (or eat them as is!)

A good kind of puff

Each year on Christmas Eve, my fiancé and I head down to his family’s to spend the night and open presents in the morning, before heading back up to my family. This year, I thought it would be appropriate for me to make a quick appetizer that we would be able to bring with us to his cousin’s for Christmas Eve dinner. I don’t remember how I found this recipe, but as soon as I saw gouda on the ingredient list, I was sold.

The ingredient list and recipe itself is straight forward and easy. I accidentally picked up the wrong kind of dough the first time around, but after heading to the store to get something completely different later in the week, I saw what I needed and realized I had originally grabbed the wrong thing. This allowed me to later try the recipe with two different types of dough, which was perfect after Sunday’s 9 mile run in the snow.

We had big plans for Friday – we were to get up at 5:30a, run 6 miles, head to work for a half day, I’d make the pastries while the fiancé finished packing, and we’d head down to his parent’s to first meet up with a friend for coffee, before continuing on to the party. Well, we of course didn’t get up to run thanks to the cold howling winds, but we were able to follow the rest of our plans for the day (for the most part, at least). I tried one of the pastries both right out of the oven as well as room temperature, and they were both really good. When bringing food to parties, I like when it’s something that doesn’t taste best at a certain temperature, because it’s difficult to keep it at that constant level.

Since it’s an apple and cheese puff pastry, I think it could be served as an appetizer or a dessert, depending on your crowd. My fiancé’s family snuck a few from the tray before we even made it out his parent’s door to get to his cousin’s. I knew that I would at least like them since gouda is my favorite cheese, but I was pleased to find everyone that tried it really enjoyed it.

Gouda and Apple Puff Pockets via Pepperidge Farm
– Makes 48 Puffs –

1 large Granny Smith apple, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
3 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, cut into 48 (1/2-inch) cubes

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the apple, chives and sugar in a medium bowl.
2. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 16×12-inch rectangle. Cut into 12 (4-inch) squares. Cut each pastry square in half diagonally to make 24 triangles. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet.
3. Place about 1/2 teaspoon apple mixture on the bottom third of the longest side of each pastry triangle. Top each with 1 cheese piece. Brush the 2 bottom corners with water. Fold the bottom corners over the filling and press to seal. Press the bottom edge of the pastry to seal, leaving the top of the pastry open. Place the pastries onto 2 baking sheets.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped chives, if desired.

Next time I don’t have to travel with the goodies, I’m making a Gouda en Croute. You know, melty gouda inside a giant puff pastry… Oh yes.